Research on Alcohol Patch Underway

Researchers plan to conduct trials to determine whether a skin patch containing the drug mecamylamine can reduce excess drinking by curbing alcohol cravings, Nature reported April 20.

The patch was originally developed as a quit-smoking aid. But preliminary research shows that mecamylamine also may help curb alcohol addiction. An initial study conducted by Jed Rose at Duke University in Durham, N.C., found that people who consumed more than 10 alcoholic drinks a week reduced their intake to six after taking mecamylamine for four weeks.

Mecamylamine, which has been used since the 1950s to reduce high blood pressure, dulls the addictive effects and cravings of drugs by reducing the release of dopamine.

Rose and his team of researchers are applying for funding and ethical approval for a formal trial.